Archive for February 3rd, 2008


A new camera?

When Elizabeth was born, my parents lent us their video camera so we could videotape Elizabeth’s early activities. However, we weren’t very disciplined about using it since tape-based camcorders aren’t well set up for taking multiple short clips and getting the video from the camera onto the computer is a pain. We used our digital camera to take short clips but it can only do 15 frames per second for a maximum of 30 seconds. So, the video is kind of jerky and sometimes we missed things because the clips are limited to 30 seconds.

With a new baby on its way, we’re looking for a good way of taking decent videos. It might also be nice to upgrade our digital point-and-shoot camera, since it’s 4 years old and has only a 3x zoom. Camcorders are expensive and generally pretty bulky. So, it seems like a point-and-shoot camera with a good movie mode is our best bet. Right now, the camera that seems best for our purposes is the Panasonic Lumix TZ5, which is due to be released in March. It takes 9.1 megapixel pictures, has a 10x optical zoom starting at a 35mm film equivalent focal length of 28mm, optical image stabilization, and can take 720p videos (as well as VGA) at 30fps. Not only that, you can use the optical zoom during the videos. The MSRP is ~$350, but I expect it’ll be available for ~$280 or so before too long.  The one gripe I have is the video codec it uses.  Some cameras use good video codecs like H.264, but my current camera and the TZ5 still use motion jpeg, which produces gigantic files.  This means that, in order to post the video online, I have to convert it to some other format that isn’t so huge.  It would be nice if I could just upload the file without having to tinker with it.

Does anyone know of any other cameras that would work well as a camcorder replacement? I guess I’m mostly looking at cameras that don’t fit into the SLR-like or Super/Ultra zoom categories (e.g. Canon S5 IS, etc.).  I know that Casio cameras generally use a good video codec, but I don’t know of any that have a long zoom or allow you to use the optical zoom during the movie.


February 2008

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